"Brave too much," said an American Indian who rode with Texas Ranger John Coffee "Jack" Hays in early 1800s Texas.
I can envision Gerard Butler playing the role of Hays. What do you think?
The Indian quoted above who rode with John C. Hays may have been Lipan Apache Chief, Cuelgas de Castro. A small group of Lipan Apache are secondary characters in my story, "Are You Going to the Dance?" in the Civil War anthology Northern Roses and Southern Belles.
I write western historical romance for which I'm always taking inspiration from my Texas family's history. My great great grandmother came to Texas with farmers from Alsace Lorraine, France, and settled in the early 1840s near San Antonio in a place they named Castroville. The settlers were accompanied to that area by John C. Hays and five of his Rangers. My great great grandmother learned to speak the Lipan Apache language and traded with a small group that lived close by their homestead. I can imagine that on the journey from San Antonio she began learning their language from the Lipan Chief, who only rode with Ranger Hays.
According to an article by Mike Cox for the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame, Hays helped to build one of the Ranger traditions ... toughness mixed with a reliance on the latest technology. In the case of the Rangers that technology would be the Colt revolver.
"They were men who could not be stampeded," said Col. Homer Garrison, Jr.
The myth of the Texas Ranger lends itself to intriguing other-worldly beings. One of my novellas, under my pseudonym, Jenette DuPris, features a hero who is a Texas Ranger and a werewolf.
It has been said that a Texas Ranger could "ride like a Mexican, trail like an Indian, shoot like a Tennessean, and fight like the devil." During the war with Mexico, in 1846, the Rangers were labeled "Los diablos Tejanos," the Texas Devils.
It was normal for every Ranger to carry more than one pistol, or revolver, rifle, and knife, one of which was usually a Bowie knife. In the time of the Civil War, frontier protection was provided in Texas by the Rangers, whose pistols or rifles proved to be the "legal authority."
In 1874, the Texas legislature created the Frontier Battalion, led by Major John B. Jones, and an organization called Special Forces, under Capt. Leander McNelly. Many of the Ranger legends grew from this lawless time in the Old West.
I've enjoyed stories about Rangers and their myths. They always inspire my imagination and make for some great hours of reading as well as writing, both nonfiction and fiction. What do you think? Do you have a favorite story, true or mythical, about a Ranger?
Jeanmarie Hamilton, Romancing the West
Northern Roses and Southern Belles
Sources: Handbook of Texas On-Line; Texas Ranger Hall of Fame